Tuesday, April 15, 2014

God's Grace

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  1 Peter 1:3-4

This coming Sunday is Easter.  As a parent of older kids, I have not yet even thought about their Easter baskets.  Over the years, the goodies inside have transitioned from candy and trinkets to ITunes gift cards and such.  I do still fill eggs with candy and put them in a basket for them.  This is probably more for me than for them, although if I stopped, I suspect they would miss it.  It has been a part of the Easter tradition in our house their whole lives. 

Lately I have been reflecting on what Easter means to me.  It seems to be different this year, I believe because I am at a different place in my life, my journey.  When I was a little girl, Easter was about the festivities and the big family meal we would have together.  Of course I always got a new dress, usually a hat, lots of candy, jewelry (like a bunny necklace) and sometimes something seasonal from Avon as well.  My mother went all out for every holiday.  The house was decorated from top to bottom and even after I married and moved away, for every single holiday I would receive a box full of goodies centered on whatever holiday it was at the time. 

Kids are all about the eggs, candy and new clothes and we parents are always trying to drive the real meaning of Easter into their hearts and heads.  As we grow and mature Easter becomes something different for all of us.  I think this year, for me, Easter is all about grace and mercy.  It was grace and mercy that led Jesus to the cross and grace and mercy that brought Him out of the grave that first Easter morning.  Grace and mercy for you and me. 

Our God is a very loving God who not only made provision for our sinfulness by sacrificing his only Son, but He also gives us many chances by his grace and mercy to turn our lives around and begin to follow Him.  Charles Stanley says the following about God’s grace:

·      Grace can be defined as God’s undeserved, unearned favor, goodness, kindness, and love towards us.  Grace is a free gift that cannot be earned.  Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.   Our sin debt was paid in full through Jesus’ death on the cross.  We have the privilege of coming to His throne with all our requests. 
·      Mercy is “not getting what we deserve” – namely, punishment for our sins.  Grace is “getting what we don’t deserve” that is, favor from God.

Now more than ever in my life, I am clinging to God’s grace and mercy.  The cross and the empty grave are another symbol of His great love for us and apart from His grace, we –I- would have eternal death.  Our very lives are an example of His grace and mercy.  Even when the trials come, it is His grace that enables us to face whatever comes.  

Grace is God’s kindness towards us regardless of whether we deserve it or not.  His mercy is an aspect of His love that comes to us and helps us when we are in trouble.  It is there when we don’t get the true punishment that is coming such as eternal death.  The cross exalts God’s grace and mercy.  Our atonement was made complete with the perfect Lamb who took our place and punishment.  He was/is the atonement for our sins.  We are sinners, yet God sent his only Son to die on the cross for our sins. That is why God's mercy is so great; Jesus was willing to die for us; a perfect sacrifice for imperfect people.  There is a catch – you have to accept the gift of His grace and mercy to benefit from them.  He knows we are underserving, yet He still offers His mercy.  Remember His great grace and mercy this Easter when you reflect on just what He did for us on the cross. 

Scripture to Claim:
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in loving-kindness to all who call upon You. Psalm 86:5  

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